James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the fame of Jesus,Matthew 14:1-15:39
FIRST MINISTRY TO THE GENTILES
Jesus has come. He has proclaimed the nearness of the Kingdom, revealed its code or principles, presented His credentials, and sent forth His heralds. But He has been antagonized and practically rejected by the nation. Then comes the turning point, when He ceases to proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom, and discourses of it in mystery. In seven parables he outlines how it will fare among the nations in the absence of the King.
One might suppose that the teachings and the doings of our Lord to follow, would assume a different complexion from any thing before. As a matter of fact such is the case in the judgment of those keen in dispensational discernment. But for the purpose before us it is undesirable to strain after such interpretations, and except where they are very clear, we shall content ourselves with the more practical line of comment.
At the close of the chapter 13 (Matthew 13:53-58), “they were offended in Him”; less and less is the nation disposed to receive him as its Messiah, and because of the suspicions of Herod (Matthew 14:1-2), He deems it prudent to withdraw Himself once more (Matthew 14:13-14). The events that follow in the chapter are the feeding of the five thousand, the walking upon the sea, the quieting of the storm, and the healing of the sick. All these are additional evidences of the grace and power of Jesus, leading to the conviction “Of a truth thou art the Son of God” (Matthew 14:33).
At chapter 15 the Pharisees once more seek occasion against him (Matthew 15:1-2), but His disciples have broken no divine law, but only disregarded one of their traditions. The charge is not that their hands are soiled, but only ceremonially unclean (Mark 7:1-4). Christ takes the indirect method of reply by attacking the traditions (Matthew 15:3-6). The fifth commandment is plain enough but the Pharisees had supplemented it with interpretations, making it so burdensome, that devices had to be invented to neutralize them. But in neutralizing the traditions they had done away with the original law. A man to honor his parents must do so and so for them, they said, i.e., more than the commandment contemplated. But if “so and so” became irksome in any case, it was only necessary to affirm that the money it involved had been pledged as a gift to the altar, and then it need not be given to the parents. Thus the latter failed to be honored at all.
The boldness of Christ is marked in this instance (Matthew 15:10-11), giving further offence to His enemies (Matthew 15:12), His words calling for an explanation even to His disciples (Matthew 15:15-20).
There is a dispensational color in the transaction following (Matthew 15:21-28), which is the first recorded ministry of Christ to a Gentile and in a Gentile country. It comes close upon the aversion to Him of His own nation, and points prophetically to that “turning to the Gentiles” which marks the present age. The significance here is found in the woman’s first appeal to Him as the Son of David (Matthew 15:22), to which as a Gentile, she has no right (Matthew 15:24); but when, dropping that, she throws herself upon His “uncovenanted mercies” so to speak, addressing Him only as “Lord,” the plea is at once granted.
1. What may be assumed as to the teachings of this Gospel following the turning point of chapter 13?
2. Name the leading facts of chapter 14.
3. To what conviction do they lead?
4. Explain in your own words Matthew 15:1-6.
5. What gives a dispensational color to the story of the Syrophoenician woman?
6. What is its prophetic application?